Native densities, distribution, and diurnal activity of Red Sea lionfishes (Scorpaenidae)

Sarah A. McTee, Justin R. Grubich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


As invasive lionfish populations continue to expand in the Western Atlantic and Ca - ribbean, understanding the ecology and foraging behavior of lionfish in their native habitats will help identify biotic constraints that may improve management of invaded reefs. The most comprehensive survey of lionfish, concluded to date, of native Red Sea lionfish was undertaken to identify potential differences in vertical distribution, density and diurnal cycles of foraging behavior. The overall, combined density of lionfish was estimated at 47.9 fish ha-1, the highest yet recorded throughout their native range. The most commonly encountered lionfish species were Pterois miles (26.4 fish ha-1) and P. radiata (20.8 fish ha-1). The density of P. miles was significantly greater at the northernmost site surveyed and also significantly greater at depths less than 15 m, with individuals often observed in aggregations. In contrast, P. radiata were often solitary and evenly distributed along the reef profile. Despite ecological differences between these 2 species, the majority of foraging activities for both P. miles and P. radiata occurred around or after sunset. These results validate that the shallow coral reef habitats of the Red Sea host the highest densities of lionfish in their native range and highlight areas of ecological variability among native lionfish species. © Inter-Research 2014.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-232
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-10-08
Acknowledgements: We thank Laura Hanna, Mai Yosry, and Nada El Shanawany for their assistance in collecting survey data. Poseidon Divers and Red Sea Dive Expeditions provided logistical support during surveys in the Egyptian Red Sea. Lastly, Michael Berumen and his team at the Red Sea Research Center of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology were indispensable in providing access, dive support, and laboratory facilities for surveys conducted off the coast of Saudi Arabia. This research was supported by an American University in Cairo Faculty Research Grant to J.R.G.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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